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News & Notes

Some people get wicked excited to take the bus…

Via Human Transit.


Biking in Heels: Watching the Pedestrians

My theory is that when pedestrians feel that the rules aren’t fair to them, or create unnecessary hardship for them, they ignore the rules and do what is simplest and easiest for them. By making things clear and easy for pedestrians, Cambridge has created a place where pedestrians are happy to obey the “rules” and generally don’t interfere with other modes’ right of way. In Boston, where pedestrians are forced to wait too long for their “turn,” are given signals that don’t seem to make sense, and aren’t given enough legal places to cross, they take the law into their own hands.


USA Today: City living will feel like a blast from the past

In the next American metropolis, people will live in smaller homes, relax in smaller yards, park their smaller cars in smaller spots. They will be closer to work, to play and, above all, to one another.

Global warming will be a fait accompli in 30 years, and so these urban Americans will raise their own food, in fields and on rooftops, and build structures to withstand everything from hurricane winds to Formosan termites.

They will walk and ride more and drive less. And they will like it.

This is the future envisioned by Andres Duany, architect, town planner, teacher and polemicist. And the future, he will tell you, is his business.


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Boston.com: Construction report: 10 projects that will change the innovation landscape in Boston and Cambridge

If you drive around Boston and Cambridge, you can’t help but notice that the construction cranes are clustered in three neighborhoods these days: Kendall Square, the Innovation District, and Longwood Medical Center.

What exactly will be in all those new buildings? Here’s my report on ten projects, all currently underway, that will upgrade our city’s innovation infrastructure. You’ll notice that most of it is being driven by life sciences companies like Biogen and Novartis, and also healthcare delivery institutions like Boston Childrens Hospital.

Let’s get some of those cranes down to Providence!

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News & Notes

kendall split

Kendall Square in Cambridge. Photo (cc) Lucy Orloski.

News & Notes MIT injecting life into Kendall Square [Boston.com]

For all of its success as a center of commerce, Kendall Square in Cambridge remains something of an urban desert, with unused spaces and buildings isolated by wide streets, exaggerating the sense of emptiness.

In discussing the so-called “Knowledge District” in Providence, I am all the time saying I don’t want to see us make the mistake of creating another Kendall Square.

“MIT’s proposed new development has the potential to transform Kendall Square into a vibrant dynamic place where the activity at the ground is as cutting-edge as the science above,” said Cambridge’s city manager, Robert Healy.

We have the opportunity to learn from Kendall Square and get the right mix from the get go, not have to fix it later.

See also: Harvard looks to private partners to jump start development in North Allston. A model for Providence? [GC:PVD]


Experts struggle to express direness of infrastructure problem to a wary public [The Washington Post]

Alaska’s bridge to nowhere is so seared in the minds of voters as the epitome of wasteful federal spending that experts say hardly anyone is willing to pay more to revitalize the nation’s aging highways, bridges and transit systems.

Despite dire warnings that a cancer is eating away the networks that carry people from place to place and goods to market, there is little urgency among the American people or political will in tight times on Capitol Hill to address the issue.


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News & Notes

Tootling [The New Yorker]

“At twenty [mph], you’d actually save time,” King said. “Going forty miles per hour doesn’t change your position in the next queue, at the next traffic lights.”

“You’re right,” DeCarlo said, and he nodded. “I’m a firm believer that, whether you do twenty or fifty-five, you’re going to get to the same place at the same time.”

New York Expands Pop-Up Cafe Program in 2011 [The Architect’s Newspaper]

The concept is simple: street space is limited and valuable. To that end, New York has been evaluating whether the highest and best use for street space along narrow sidewalks is storing cars. Like a glorified Park(ing) Day spot made (semi-)permanent and held on high, these pop-up cafés invite pedestrians to imagine their city in new ways.

Dreyfus Tees Up Center Leg Freeway [DC Mud]

Washington, DC developers plan to deck 3 blocks of the Central Leg Freeway which separates the city. When they are done, they are welcome to come to Route 95 in Providence.

Pedestrians take to the streets; motorists learn to coexist [New Urban Network]

Monderman advocated getting rid of the welter of traffic signs, pavement striping, and other devices intended to regulate conflicting modes of traffic. He believed that human beings — whether in motor vehicles, on bikes, or using their own two feet — could intuitively adjust their movement and manage to cross the streets and squares safely.

Monderman operated mainly in small towns, where traffic tended to be light. There it was fairly easy to count on pedestrians and motorists to keep an eye on one another, thus avoiding accidents. By contrast, Hamilton-Baillie has introduced the shared-space idea to streets in the center of a great metropolis — London.

US shared space: Starting small [New Urban Network]

Cambridge created two shared-space streets, both in 2008. The first was on Winthrop Street adjoining Winthrop Park, not far from Harvard Square. It’s a narrow, minor street near restaurants. People were already walking in the street, so it was a natural to be officially designated a shared space. A sign identifies it as shared by pedestrians and vehicles, with a posted speed limit of 10 mph.

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